Sunday, September 27, 2015

Outdoor work

We've been taking advantage of the great fall weather to finish up some outdoor projects, including grouting the stone porch.  As so often happens with DIY projects, it took about twice as long as I would have thought (I very nearly suggested doing it one evening this past week...since it wound up taking about four to five hours total, that would have been a very long night).  Of course, a good part of that was drying time between tooling the grout but still - even just piping in the grout was more work, more difficult, and took longer than expected.  We were too busy to take pictures but we took two grout bags (which are an actual thing! which I did not know before this week) and piped the grout into each and every gap.  It was kind of like decorating the world's most solid cake.  Fortunately, the other project - ripping down the back fence - was faster and easier than expected thanks to the bobcat.  We bought the forklift attachment because it came with the bobcat, not because we necessarily were looking for it, but I have to say that it's turned out to be one of the more useful tools in our garage.  Putting the forks through the chain link and lifting turns out to be a very effective way of ripping a fence out of the ground.  And, of course, there's very little that the bobcat can't pull out with some tow chains.  All in all, it made quick work of it.  We may not install a new back fence until next spring but we wanted to get the old one down now so we could assess the situation and foliage and plan out our next move.  So that was a good task to finish up.  And now, for pictures...

I realized I neglected to post an "after" picture of the bathroom tile from a few weeks ago so...better late than never!  Here it is with the white grout.
Installing the capstone on the stone columns.  We used two 36" x 12" pieces of 1 1/2" thick Pennsylvania slate.  In order to get the right amount of overhang, we shaved about an inch off each slab's width and then cut out the wood posts.
Awaiting grout but stone installed 
And from the other side
Now with grout!  To get a slightly darker grout color, we added 1 tablespoon of black cement color to each 50 lb. bag of grout
And the other side
And from the front (complete with our very makeshift "walkway" consisting of the old concrete path, torn up and moved compliments of the bobcat, of course)
I forgot to take a true "before" but here's the back fence when we just started pulling down the old wood and chain link.  The house behind us is about to be demolished for a new build, so they have a dumpster (and we don't have any neighbors and therefore no loss of privacy with the removal of the fence)

Go, bobcat, go!

The quick way to remove a fence...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Stone mason of the year. At least on this project. Stone work isn't particularly hard, but it does require a lot of trial and error. Like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You want it to look random and not perfectly designed. Mission accomplished? We've spent a few hours here and there on the weekends and a few nights this week finishing up. Stones are all mortared in and the tops are cut flush. Finally the porch stone is ready for grout and trim. Hopefully this weekend we will finish the stone bases completely. Adding some major curb appeal!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tile Time

We've been working away at installing one of the upstairs bathrooms so we can relocate to the second floor and finally escape the basement - where we have been living for 10 months!  When we moved down here last November, we didn't have a good idea of how long it would be before we lived above-ground again...and that was probably a good thing because I'm not sure I would have been very excited to commit in advance to basement living for nearly a year.  Of course, the top two floors are still a long way from complete but even partially finished above-ground space will be an upgrade in my book.  We did ourselves no favors on this first bathroom by deciding on a somewhat ambitious tile pattern - brick surround with a herringbone inset and marble mosiac picture frame.  Had we done something more simple, we could have knocked this out in a day or two.  Instead, we've been working away a bit every night and this weekend.  We used two different sizes of subway tile for the bathroom - 4 1/4" x 10" for the brick pattern and 3" x 6" tiles for the herringbone.  Although it's more time-consuming, I'm glad we did it as it's a nice combination of classic look with a custom touch.  And now for pictures...

Getting started with the brick pattern - we used a ledger board on the sides to make sure the lines stayed straight

Brick pattern almost complete

Working our way through the brick pattern and getting started with the inset

Finally!  Tile in, next step - grout